Now is a perfect time to be out in the garden if you are fortunate to have one. The mental benefits of gardening have been well-documented over time. Children -and adults- can feel achievement in completing a task or learning a new skill.
Remember to teach safety first as a priority as gardens by their nature can contain many risks, hidden or obvious. Without exaggeration, gardening mishaps can cause injuries which put avoidable pressure on our National Health Service. Please be careful.
It is also true that many families may not have easy access to gardens or have public parks nearby. Fortunately, many seeds can be sown indoors and begin to grow on a windowsill with plenty of light and enough water.
Seeds are readily available in supermarkets (food is essential and growing your own is beneficial in many ways) and online.
From late April to May, the following plants are suitable for indoor/greenhouse sowing:
- Sweetcorn in modules ready for planting out once all risk of frost has passed. Grow at least 12 plants for good pollination and cropping.
- Basil in pots for the greenhouse or patio - this Mediterranean staple thrives in warm conditions.
- Courgette, marrow, squash, and pumpkin seeds under cover.
- Try sowing lettuce in module trays under glass for transplanting into the garden later. Sow every 3 or 4 weeks for continuous harvesting.
- Cucumber and gherkin seeds in individual pots or modules.
- Runner beans and French beans under cover, sowing individually into module trays for planting out after the risk of frost has passed.
- Kale seeds under cover now - yes, it really is time to think ahead to winter cropping.
- Perennial herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, lovage and lemon balm under cover.
- Glasshouse tomatoes in beds or growing bags.
The following can be sown directly outdoors:
- Beetroot seeds (thinly), directly into the ground.
- Broccoli in a nursery bed for transplanting later on, or sow directly in your vegetable plot.
- Cabbages. Net them early on to prevent cabbage-white butterflies laying their eggs on the leaves.
- Brussels sprouts outdoors now.
- Carrots in rows: protect to prevent carrot-fly attack.
- Chicory directly into the soil.
- Herbs such as chives, coriander, dill and parsley directly into the ground or in containers.
- Kohl Rabi - it will be ready in as little as 8 weeks.
- Peas directly into the ground; start them off in modules if mice are a problem.
- Pak Choi every 3 weeks for a continuous crop.
- Parsnip. Sow 3 or 4 seeds every 20 cm and thin to the strongest plant.
- Radish seeds directly into the soil for quick and easy home-grown salad.
- Salad leaves directly into the ground or in containers.
- Cauliflower seeds under cover.
- Spinach seeds in soil enriched with plenty of organic matter. Try growing spinach 'Perpetual' if you have very dry soil.
- Spring Onion seeds in drills outdoors for a quick crop to flavour salads and stir fries.
- Try Swiss chard sown outdoors for a colourful crop - it even looks great in flower beds!
- Sow Swede seeds outdoors in a rich, fertile soil for autumn and winter crops.
- Turnips for a great addition to casseroles and stews.
- Watercress in containers, making sure the container is sitting in 2-3 inches of water at all times.
Further advice is available from the Royal Horticultural Society